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Happiness and Health

We may have more control over our happiness – and physical well-being– than we think.

What determines happiness:

50% : Genetics – Studies of twins suggest that about half of our propensity for happiness is inherited

40%: Behavior – Much of our ability to be happy is governed by our own choices, such as exercising and socializing.

10%: Circumstances – Differences in external factors, such as income and beauty, have the smallest influence.

Healthy Habits for Happiness:

Sleep More – People who get adequate sleep have a better shot at achieving emotional well-being, according to a 2014 analysis. The happiest people get an average of eight hours a night; 42% of U.S. adults get less than the recommended minimum of seven hours.

Exercise – Physical activity boosts the actions of endorphins, which may be natural mood enhancers, and not only in the short term. Exercise is increasingly becoming a standard part of treatment for major depression and preventing relapses.

Get Outside – While it's true that too much sun is a bag thing, getting enough exposure may be important to mental health. Studies have found that sunlight boosts synthesis of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and may help combat depression.

Eat More Fish – Omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods such as cold-water fatty fish, have been linked to a decreased risk of mental disorders. In a review of 26 studies on the topic, researchers found that people who ate the most fish had a 17% lower risk of depression than those who ate the least.

Stand Up Straight – A 2014 study found that New Zealanders with upright posture reported feeling more enthusiastic, excited and strong. Their slumping counterparts were more fearful, passive and sleepy.

Smile – A 2012 study found that smilers enjoyed lower heart rates during stress recovery and a smaller drop in positive emotions during stressful tasks. Research has even shown that artificially reducing the ability to frown (through Botox) may help relieve depression.

Source: "How Joys Affects Health" Time Magazine, August 2019

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